A Line-Up of Leading Texas Energy, Latin America, Litigation and Public Finance Talent
Orrick announced the opening of its Houston office – its 25th worldwide – on January 19 to focus on four areas that complement Orrick’s global strengths: Energy & Infrastructure, Latin America, Litigation and Intellectual Property, and Public Finance. The founding lawyers, all native Texan practitioners, hail from six prominent law firms. The office will serve clients in the energy & infrastructure, technology and finance sectors – the sectors for which Orrick is a leading global advisor.
“Houston is a vitally important market for our clients and a key hub for the energy and infrastructure and Latin American markets,” said Orrick Chairman Mitch Zuklie. “We are delighted to enter this market with a world-class, diversified team that complements Orrick’s strengths across our global platform. This team will add enormous talent to our firm and give us a tremendous foundation in Texas on which to build. We look forward to announcing additional Houston office members in the near future. We are committed to continuing to grow these teams and adding capabilities in areas such as private equity and energy technology that address our clients’ needs and are a strategic fit with our strengths.”
Brief bios for 13 of the new team members are provided below. The firm expects to announce seven more partners, at least five of whom are expected to join later this month.
Several members of the new team will join Orrick’s global leadership team. Blake H. Winburne, a Chambers-rated energy projects and M&A lawyer, will serve as co-leader of Orrick’s 130-lawyer Global Energy & Infrastructure Group. The new Orrick Houston office leader – a widely recognized, Chambers-rated Latin America practitioner, with significant corporate, M&A, private equity and energy transactions experience – will join the firm later this month. In addition, he will co-lead the firm’s Latin America Group, with another new partner from the same firm.
Other senior team members include Dahl Thompson, who is Chambers-recognized as a leading practitioner in Projects and Renewables, and Claudia Wilson Frost, a Chambers-rated and distinguished IP, commercial and appellate litigator.
Orrick’s Houston transactional team will bring deep experience across all segments of the energy market, expanding into Texas Orrick’s top-rated global energy & infrastructure team. The new Houston team joins an Orrick team that was named Law360 Project Finance Group of the Year in 2015 for the third time; is Chambers-rated in 20 different categories of Energy & Infrastructure globally; and has completed projects in 95 countries and 49 U.S. states. Orrick’s new Houston partners serve leading participants in the electric power, renewable energy, and oil and gas markets. The team will have particular depth in Latin America, providing M&A, private equity, corporate finance, and project development and finance capabilities, as well as local market insight, with long-standing, personal relationships with the top local law firms across the region. This broadly-skilled, Houston-based transactional practice will complement and be fully integrated with Orrick’s projects and cross-border M&A teams in Europe, Africa and Asia.
New transactional team practitioners who focus on Energy & Infrastructure, Latin America and Corporate/M&A that the firm is announcing today, in addition to Blake and Dahl, include: Matt Archer, Brad Gathright, George Humphrey, Giji John and Darrell Thomas.
In addition, the soon-to-be announced Houston office leader will be joined by four other partners on his team. Altogether, the five partners will bring significant experience in oil and gas transactions, including upstream, midstream and downstream M&A and project development. They will also be joined by a seasoned practitioner in cross-border transactions, with experience throughout Latin America and a particular focus on Mexico. In addition, two other partners from another firm will bolster the team’s experience in corporate and public company M&A transactions for the energy sector and will add tax expertise.
“The Houston team that Orrick has put together perfectly complements Orrick’s world-class energy and infrastructure platform,” said Blake Winburne, co-Business Unit Leader for Energy & Infrastructure. “The Houston team gives Orrick a strong presence in a global energy sector hub and, from its inception, will represent one of the deepest and most broadly capable energy-focused transactional practices in the Houston legal market. It fortifies the firm’s electric power practice, adds depth and further breadth to Orrick’s Chambers Band 2-rated renewables team and Band 1-rated infrastructure team, and adds upstream, midstream and downstream transactional capabilities in the U.S. that complement the firm’s oil and gas work across the UK, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. This group also will include lawyers with long-standing, market-leading corporate, M&A, private equity and projects practices in Latin America and particularly in Mexico, representing an important strategic client offering in a region that promises to attract substantial international investment over the next decade.”
The litigation team combines top Texas trial, IP and appellate talent with Orrick’s global litigation platform. Last month, The American Lawyer named Orrick among the top 10 firms nationwide on its 2016 Litigation Power Rankings and selected the firm as IP Litigation Department of the Year and as one of six finalists nationwide for Litigation Department of the Year. Orrick’s Texas litigation team brings proven trial and appellate skills in complex commercial, intellectual property and antitrust matters for leading energy and technology companies. The team has prevailed in IP matters in all forums, from inter partes reviews, to trials in the Eastern District of Texas, to Section 337 cases before the International Trade Commission and Federal Circuit reviews.
“Orrick is a firm known for trying cases – and winning them – in Texas and in jurisdictions worldwide,” said Claudia Wilson Frost, a distinguished IP and commercial trial and appellate practitioner who joins the team. “The firm also has a formidable international litigation, arbitration and IP platform. I have long admired this team and am thrilled to join them. I look forward to working with Orrick colleagues around the world to grow our team in Texas to offer clients world-class litigation advice.” Claudia and Orrick’s IP Business Unit Leader Denise Mingrone are two of the 20 “Most Influential Women in IP,” according to Law360 in its recent list of leading U.S. practitioners.
In addition, deepening Orrick’s litigation bench are Katherine Ginzburg Treistman and Jeffrey Johnson. Katherine is a seasoned trial lawyer who has practiced for her 20-year career with Susman Godfrey. She brings extensive experience in high-stakes trials and arbitrations in the oil and gas industry and has helped resolve a wide range of other claims, including IP matters in the Eastern District of Texas.
Jeffrey focuses on complex litigation, particularly patent litigation in federal district courts and inter partes reviews. He has extensive experience handling patent infringement cases in the Eastern District of Texas and other jurisdictions across the country. Jeffrey primarily advises clients in the energy, oil and gas, life sciences and tech sectors. With a doctorate degree in chemistry and engineering, he has a proven ability to engage with the technical aspects of cases.
The addition of a five-member Texas public finance team gives Orrick public finance practitioners in nine markets nationwide. For the last decade or more, including 2015, the firm has been ranked the number one bond counsel, number one disclosure counsel and among the top underwriters counsel in the country, based on the amount of municipal bonds it handles in those respective roles. Todd Brewer will serve as vice chair for Orrick Public Finance in Texas. In addition to Todd, joining the Public Finance team are Hoang Vu, Marcus Deitz, Kathryn Garner and J. Kent Friedman.
Blake H. Winburne joins as co-leader of Orrick’s Global Energy & Infrastructure practice. He was formerly a partner with McDermott Will & Emery, where he served as global head of that firm’s Energy practice. Blake is recognized both nationally and globally by Chambers, which reports that clients describe him as “very pragmatic with good business judgment and a very effective negotiating style.” Blake advises clients on energy sector mergers, acquisitions, dispositions and joint ventures, and on the development, structuring and financing of large-scale energy projects in the United States and Latin America. He regularly represents multinational energy companies, large private equity funds, project developers and sponsors, borrowers and debt issuers, investment banks, and other capital providers and investors in the energy industry, with a focus on the downstream and midstream energy sectors. He has significant experience in the electric power sector, as well as wind, solar, landfill gas, biomass and other renewable energy projects. He has also represented clients in transactions involving oil, natural gas and refined products pipelines, gathering systems and storage facilities, as well as electric power and natural gas transmission and local distribution systems.
Dahl Thompson, formerly a partner with Andrews Kurth, advises on renewable project finance, project development and M&A transactions. He is recognized for Projects and Renewable & Alternative Energy nationally and globally by Chambers, with clients describing him as “a tireless problem solver with great attention to detail and a good sense of humor.” Dahl focuses on energy infrastructure projects, including electrical generation (both conventional and renewables) and midstream oil and gas assets. He represents clients in all major aspects of the structuring, development, financing, acquisition and disposition of such projects, including the negotiation and drafting of financing and security agreements; credit support arrangements; joint development agreements; shareholder, partnership and LLC agreements; power purchase agreements; tolling agreements; construction agreements; major equipment supply agreements; and stock and asset purchase and sale agreements.
Matt Archer, formerly a partner with McDermott Will & Emery, focuses his practice on project development and finance, as well as mergers and acquisitions, in the energy industry. He is recognized nationally and globally by Chambers, which reports that clients say: “He is as personable a lawyer as you would want to meet – he makes everyone on the deal feel comfortable.” Particularly active in the renewables space, Matt advises clients on a wide range of issues relating to wind, solar, landfill gas, energy storage and other alternative energy projects, from early development, construction and offtake agreements, through commercial operation, financing, repowering and disposition. He also advises on the development, structuring, construction, purchase and sale of traditional power projects, midstream oil and gas pipeline projects, and other energy infrastructure projects. Matt has extensive experience representing clients in the development, structuring and construction of large energy projects in Mexico, including natural gas pipeline projects and wind, solar and gas-fired power projects.
Brad Gathright, formerly a partner with McDermott Will & Emery, focuses his practice on project development and finance matters and corporate transactions in the energy industry, primarily in the conventional and renewable power and midstream oil and gas sectors. Brad represents both investors and developers in a broad range of transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, private equity investments and other commercial transactions involving the development, construction, financing, acquisition, sale and investment in power generation, exploration, production, storage, transportation, distribution, marketing and other energy-related projects and businesses. Brad has been named a Rising Star by Super Lawyers each of the past three years.
George Humphrey, formerly a partner with Andrews Kurth, focuses his practice on U.S. and international project development and finance, corporate finance, strategic joint ventures, and mergers and acquisitions for energy sector clients. George is recognized by The Legal 500 for Renewables and Alternative Energy and Project Finance in the United States, as well as for Projects & Energy in Latin America. His practice includes advising on, structuring and documenting petrochemical, power and other energy projects, including identifying and minimizing associated regulatory, transmission and other risks associated with these projects. Fluent in Spanish, George regularly represents energy companies in cross-border investments involving Latin America, including identifying and minimizing of emerging market risks, and structuring and documenting joint ventures, strategic acquisitions and project financings.
Giji John, formerly a partner with Andrews Kurth, focuses his practice on the development and financing of domestic and international energy projects, representing project sponsors through development, acquisitions and dispositions, joint ventures and financings. Law360 selected Giji as one of only four Project Finance MVPs nationwide in 2015, citing his “strong appetite and aptitude for taking on novel projects.” He is also recognized for Renewable Energy and Project Finance by The Legal 500 US. Giji has represented sponsors and lenders in some of the largest and most complex energy project financing transactions, including representing the project company in more than $14 billion in debt financing related to the Sabine Pass LNG Liquefaction Project. In addition to transactions involving LNG facilities, Giji handles deals involving methanol facilities, petrochemical refineries, carbon capture and sequestration facilities, natural gas processing and storage facilities, natural gas and CO2 pipelines, wind energy, solar energy, natural gas-fired peaking and combined-cycle power plants, thermal and battery energy storage, transportation, aviation and ports. Giji completed a secondment to the International Finance Corporation’s Office of General Counsel, where he worked on multi-currency corporate financings, project financings and equity investments in infrastructure projects in 18 countries. He is a Fellow of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity.
Darrell Thomas, formerly a partner with Andrews Kurth, focuses on real property matters related to the development, financing, acquisition and disposition of renewable energy projects and other projects in the energy sector. He has extensive experience in drafting and negotiating project leases and easements and structuring and documenting arrangements for shared use of facilities and build out of wind projects. Darrell has also advised clients in connection with resolving potential conflicts between the development of surface and mineral estates and prepared and negotiated surface use agreements to resolve development conflicts. In addition, he has experience in a wide range of traditional real estate matters, including drafting and negotiating development agreements, restrictions agreements, purchase and sale agreements, ground leases, facility and office leases, and construction and permanent loan documents.
Claudia Wilson Frost, formerly co-chair of DLA Piper’s Global and U.S. Patent Litigation Practices, has handled more than 40 jury trials in state and federal courts in her 30-plus year career as a trial lawyer, appellate advocate and strategist. Her experience has been wide-ranging and includes commercial and intellectual property litigation in oil and gas and energy, products liability, telecommunications, technology and financial services.
In IP, she has been lead or co-lead counsel in over 50 patent infringement cases in courts throughout the country; has argued Markman hearings; has tried patent infringement cases to verdict; has represented parties in Section 337 actions in the ITC; and has argued significant cases in the Federal Circuit. While most of her patent litigation experience has been in the areas of oil and gas/energy and telecommunications, she has also handled patent cases in the financial services and retail sectors. Claudia also advises clients on international patent acquisition and enforcement strategies, either as part of ongoing litigation or independently as a business advisor.
Claudia has been extensively recognized for her practice. Chambers USA notes: “Clients admired [this] 'highly responsive and fabulous strategist' for her powers of ‘brilliant analysis.’ She has a trial background and a depth of appellate experience, with a particular niche in patent infringement.” The Legal 500 has called her “One of Best Known Names in the Field.” Claudia was recently named one of Law360’s “Influential Woman in IP Law,” an honor bestowed on only 20 women IP lawyers in the country. She has been named to Managing Intellectual Property’s annual list of “Top 250 Women in IP,” which recognizes the top female intellectual property lawyers in the United States, and has been repeatedly recognized as an “IP Star.” She is also recognized in Euromoney’s Guide to Leading US Litigators, Guide to Leading World Litigators and Guide to the World’s Leading Women in Business Law. Claudia began her career as a trial lawyer at Baker Botts, where she ultimately founded and headed the firm’s appellate practice.
Claudia is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, a Fellow in the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, and is certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in both Civil Trial Law and in Civil Appellate Law. She is also a founder of the Center for Women in Law at the University of Texas Law School, where she is on the executive committee.
Jeffrey Johnson, Ph.D., formerly a partner at DLA Piper, helps clients with complex litigation, particularly patent litigation in federal district courts and inter partes reviews. He has extensive experience handling patent infringement cases in the Eastern District of Texas and other jurisdictions across the country, and has been lead counsel on many IPR and CBM actions. Jeffrey has also handled IP cases involving trademark infringement, copyright infringement, trade secret misappropriation and unfair competition. In addition, he has experience in antitrust, business torts, and other commercial claims. Jeffrey primarily advises clients in the energy, oil and gas, life sciences and tech sectors, including networks, Internet, wireless and distributed systems. With a doctorate degree in chemistry and engineering and prior work experience as a scientist, he has a proven ability to engage with the technical aspects of cases. He is an adjunct research professor at the University of Houston Law Center.
Katherine Ginzburg Treistman was formerly a partner with Susman Godfrey, where she spent her entire 20-year career. Katherine is an experienced trial lawyer who handles matters in state and federal courts nationwide and in arbitrations. Her practice focuses on disputes in the energy sector, antitrust, intellectual property, auditor liability, employment and other commercial claims. In the energy sector, in addition to handling numerous complex contractual and other disputes, Katherine recently successfully defended the former CEO of a global oilfield services company in a multimillion-dollar fraud claim against him and the company’s other officers, brought by a leading investment management firm that loaned money to the company prior to its bankruptcy filing. She also represented a global oil and oilfield services company in various court proceedings and in a high-profile arbitration in various disputes related to the sales of gas compressors and related contracts. In the intellectual property area, Katherine has secured for her clients settlements in patent infringement cases against major global entities in the Eastern District of Texas. She is a Fellow of the Texas Bar Association, and a member of the Association of Women Attorneys and the Houston Trial Lawyers Association. Katherine is fluent in Russian and proficient in Spanish.
Todd Brewer will serve as vice chair for Orrick Public Finance in Texas. He was formerly a partner with McGuireWoods and has extensive public finance experience in all areas of tax-exempt transactions. He has acted as bond counsel, bank counsel, underwriter’s counsel, trustee’s counsel, letter of credit providers counsel and borrowers counsel in transactions for traditional governmental entities, nonprofit organizations, charter schools and private entities. Todd also represents banks and other financial institutions in connection with direct purchases of tax-exempt bonds and the issuance of letter of credit and other liquidity facilities in connection with tax-exempt transactions. In addition, Todd has extensive experience in the representation of both governmental entities and private parties in connection with economic development projects and major sports and entertainment facilities. He is a member of the National Association of Bond Lawyers.
Hoang Vu, formerly a partner with McGuireWoods, serves as bond counsel, disclosure counsel, underwriter’s counsel, issuer’s counsel and bank counsel in connection with a broad range of taxable and tax-exempt transactions, including education, health care and transportation matters. Hoang has significant experience in representing banks and other financial institutions on financings for nonprofit entities, direct purchase and private placements of municipal and governmental debt, and letter of credit and liquidity facilities for variable-rate bonds and commercial paper programs. He is a member of the National Association of Bond Lawyers.
Marcus Deitz, formerly a partner with McGuireWoods, has more than 15 years of experience assisting clients in taxable and tax-exempt public finance matters, including general obligation debt issuances, revenue-backed financings and lease purchase transactions. He has represented school districts, municipalities, counties, junior colleges, universities, special authorities, water districts and other political subdivisions in a variety of roles, including bond counsel, disclosure counsel and issuer’s counsel. In addition, he frequently represents underwriters and purchasers of both public and privately placed debt, regularly serving as underwriter’s counsel and bank counsel. Marcus also provides his clients with guidance on derivative transactions and liquidity facilities, election law matters, and municipal and school law issues. Marcus previously clerked for the Colorado Court of Appeals and has been a partner at two other international law firms. He is licensed to practice law in Texas and Colorado and is a member of the National Association of Bond Lawyers.
Kathryn Garner, formerly a partner with Haynes and Boone, focuses her practice on tax law related to public finance and tax-exempt bond financings. Kathryn advises cities, counties, school districts, higher education authorities, state agencies, port authorities, transit authorities and water utility districts with respect to their financings. She regularly consults with governmental issuers on arbitrage, rebate and other post-issuance compliance and responds to inquiries from governmental issuers, borrowers and investment bankers regarding tax issues. Kathryn has represented many issuers and borrowers in connection with IRS audits of tax-exempt bonds. She has represented numerous nonprofit organizations in the exemption process to achieve tax-exempt status under the Internal Revenue Code and Texas sales and franchise taxes and advises tax-exempt organizations regarding ongoing compliance with federal tax laws and regulations. Kathryn is a member of the National Association of Bond Lawyers, the Houston Bar Foundation and is the current president of the Texas Chapter of Women in Public Finance.
J. Kent Friedman, formerly with Haynes and Boone, is a veteran transactional lawyer and Houston civic leader. His practice has been primarily in the public finance, corporate and tax areas, and he has represented a number of highly successful entrepreneurs. He has extensive experience with transactional work, public law matters and corporate governance controversies and disputes. In addition to his private practice, Kenny ran the business interests of former Houston Mayor Bob Lanier and served as general counsel of Maxxam Inc. Kenny currently serves as Chairman of the Board of the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority, which built and is the landlord for the city’s state-of-the-art sports venues: Minute Maid Park, Reliant Stadium, Toyota Center and BBVA Compass Stadium. Kenny is a Fellow of both the Houston Bar Foundation and the Texas Bar Foundation; President of the Mickey Leland Kibbutzim Internship Foundation; and serves on the boards of several charitable and corporate entities. He is also a member of the Tulane University President’s Council.
The firm expects to announce additional team members in the coming weeks.